Open main menu

Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 2.djvu/144

This page needs to be proofread.


AUSTRALIA


116


AUSTRALIA


by the Colonial Office. He placed the matter in the hands of the Rt. Rev. Dr. Poynter, and, relying on the known influence of his English friend, set. sail in good faith for his distant field. On his arrival in Sydney, Governor Macquarie bluntly informed him that no "Popish missionary" would be allowed to intrude within the settlement, and that every person in the penal colony must be a Protestant.

Father Flynn ministered secretly to his flock wher- ever he could evade the watchful eyes of hostile offi- cials. A few montlis after his arrival he was suddenly arrested without warrant or accusation, placed under lock and key in prison, and. without trial, shipped back to London as a prisoner by the first vessel homeward bound. Before his arrest he used secretly to celebrate the Sacred Mysteries in the house of a pious Catholic named Davis. There the Sacred Species were reserved for the sick and dying, in a cedar press, or tabernacle. Father Fljiin vainly besought permission to return to the house. And there, for two years after his departure, the taper or lamp was ever kept alight, and, with pathetic de\'otion, the children of sorrow gathered in adora- tion around the Bread of Life. The " Holy House of Australia", with its small adjoining grounds and the sum of £1,000, was devoted to religion by Davis, and on its site now stands a fine church dedicated to God under the invocation of the national apostle of Ireland. Governor Macquarie's harsh and illegal treatment of Father Flynn created a stir in the British House of Commons. It opened up the whole scandalous story of the persecution of the Catholic convicts and settlers in Australia, created a healthy reaction, and led to the appointment of two Irish chaplains, Father Pliilip Connolly (who went to Hobart) and Father John Joseph Therrj' (who re- mained in Sydney), each with a slender yearly salary of £100. That was in May. 1821. With that day, to use the words of Archbishop Carr of Mel- bourne "what may be termed the period of the Church suffering ends, and that of the Church mili- tant begins".

III. Period of P.vrtial Toleration. — The new era inaugurated by Fathers Connolly and Therry was, however, one of only partial toleration of the Catholic Faith. It extended from their arrival in Australia, and was marked by long and successful struggles against religious ascendancy, the partial cessation of convictism, and the beginnings of the present hierarchical organization. In 1821 New South Wales and Tasmania (the only places then colonized) contained a white population of 35,610 souls. Some 30 per cent of these were Catholics. At a census taken in 1828 there were in eastern Australia 30,598 whites, of whom 11,236 were Catho- lics. Serious restrictions were still placed upon the marriage of Catholic convicts. The chaplains were strictly forbidden to receive converts from any Protestant denomination, or to interfere with the old-standing abuse of bringing up all the children in State-aided institutions in the creed of the Church of England (Hogan, The Irish in Australia, 3d ed., 236-237). And through and over it all ran the constant effort to set up the Protestant Reformed Religion as the Established Church of the new south lands. A great stride in the direction of such an establishment was made when, on 17 July, 1825, Royal Letters set apart for the ruling creed one- seventh of the whole territory of New South Wales, without prejudice to previous grants bestowed upon it. It was in a great measure to Father Therry's energy and ardour that this crowning act of as- cendancy owed its partial defeat. The Roj^al Grant was revoked in 1834, but in the meantime. 435.000 acres of the public domain had been alienated for the benefit of the Anglican Church. Father Therry's frjquent collisions with abuses created a deadlock


with the Sydney officials. This, in turn, led to the appointment of Dr. L'llathome, a distinguished English Benedictine, as Vicar-General of the Bishop of Mauritius, who exercised jurisdiction over Aus- tralia till 1834.

Dr. L'llathome arrived in his new field of labour in 1833. In that year the white population of New South Wales (i. e. of the whole island conti- nent except Western Australia) had risen to 60,794. Of these, some 36.000 were free. The Catholic body, numbering 17,179, and scattered over a vast area, was ministered to by four priests. There were on the Australian mainland four Catholic schools, and four churches under construction (one of them Old St. Mary's, Sydney). Tasmania (as we still call it by anticipation) had only one Catholic priest, no school, and its one church (at Hobart) was described by Dr. L'Uathorne as "a mere tem- porary shed ". Sir Richard Bourke, a broad-minded Irish Protestant, was at that time Governor of New South Wales. Through his exertions was passed the Church Act of 1836, which broke up the quasi- monopoly of State appropriations for the clergy and the denominational schools that had hith- erto been enjoyed by the Church of England (Therry, New South Wales and Victoria, ed. 1863, 17; Flanagan, Historj' of New South Wales. I, 512, 513). Despite its admitted shortcomings, this was, in the circumstances of the time and countn,'. a notable measure. It ended forever the dream of a Protestant ascendancy on the Australian mainland, and is justly regarded as the first Charter of the country's religious liberties. A Church Act on simi- lar lines was passed in Tasmania in 1837. During the governorship of Sir Richard Bourke Catholics (Roger, afterwards Sir Roger, Therry, and John Hubert Plimkett) were also, for the first time in the history of Australia, appointed to positions of any importance under the Crown. L'nder this adminis- tration the annual influx of free immigrants (some 3,000) equalled for the first time that of the con- victs (Sutherland, History of Australia, 12th ed., 51.52).

Australia was gradually rolling out of the sul- len gloom of a penal settlement, and emerging into the condition of a freeman's country. The Catliohc population increased rapidly. Their numbers and their distance from the immediate centre of tlieir spiritual jurisdiction led, in 1834, to the formation of Australia, Tasmania, and the adjacent islands (including New Zealand) into a vicariate Apostolic. The Right Rev. John Bede Folding, an English Benedictine, was appointed its first bishop. In 1841 his vast diocese contained some 40.000 Catho- lics, ministered to by twenty-eight priests, and scattered over a territory nearly as large as Europe. The Australian mainland and Tasmania had in that year a population of 211,095 souls. At the census of that year, there were 35,690 of Bishop Folding's spiritual subjects in a total population of 130.856 in New South Wales (which then included the present States of Queensland and Victoria). Among the other scattered Catholics was a little group, poor labourers all, except one famUy, in a white popula- tion of some 15.000 souls in South Australia. This colony had been founded in 1836 as a free and "socially superior" Protestant settlement, from which "Papists and pagans" were to have been rigidly excluded. A few Catholics, however, crept in. They were ministered to by one priest (Father Benson) who lived among them in apostolic poverty from 1839 till the arrival of the first Bishop of Adelaide, Dr. Murphy, in 1842. In Western Australia there were 2.311 hard-pressed colonists at the census of 1840. There were very few Catholics among them, and no priest till 1845, when there arrived in the colony Dom Rudesind Salvado, a